This is why we can't have nice things

Avaldati 26 märts 2021
This video is about stuff: light bulbs, printers, phones and why they aren't better. Go to and use code VERITASIUM to get a 2-year plan plus 1 additional month with a huge discount. It’s risk free with Nord’s 30 day money-back guarantee!
The Man in the White Suit -
London, B. (1932). Ending the depression through planned obsolescence. -
Slade, G. (2009). Made to break: Technology and obsolescence in America. Harvard University Press -
Krajewski, M. (2014). The great lightbulb conspiracy. IEEE spectrum, 51(10), 56-61. -
Planet Money, The Phoebus Cartel -
The Light Bulb Conspiracy -
Special thanks to Patreon supporters: Mac Malkawi, Oleksii Leonov, Michael Schneider, Jim Osmun, Tyson McDowell, Ludovic Robillard, jim buckmaster, fanime96, Juan Benet, Ruslan Khroma, Robert Blum, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Vincent, Lyvann Ferrusca, Alfred Wallace, Arjun Chakroborty, Joar Wandborg, Clayton Greenwell, Pindex, Michael Krugman, Cy 'kkm' K'Nelson, Sam Lutfi, Ron Neal
Written by Derek Muller and Petr Lebedev
Animation by Ivan Tello
Filmed by Derek Muller and Raquel Nuno
Edited by Derek Muller
Video supplied by Getty Images
Music by Jonny Hyman and from"Aquatic Planet", "Rhythm of Dreams", "Tread Lightly", "Unexpected Visitors", "Curved Mirrors" "Drunken Lullaby" "Fluorescent Lights"
Thumbnail by Raquel Nuno and Karri Denise


  • lol I learned about in school a month ago it was pretty cool how apple just wants to make your pocket's hurt and thats why my I phone 8 is so slow

  • Apple

  • Planned obsolescence is the perfect example of why capitalism is self destructive.

  • there is an underlying thread to much of this video that largely goes unaddressed and that's the thing driving the profit motive, the need for the sales to always be higher than the previous years, corporations coming together not in the public interest but in the interest of their CEOs and investors, and that driving force, that uniting factor is capitalism. in order to truly see the end of planned obsolesce we need to see the end of capitalism.

  • So basically, if I can get my hands on certain parts, I could make appliances that last 50 years?

  • LED lightbulbs are horrible. I replace all my lightbulbs with LED and 3 years later one by one they are all going out. My incandescent light bulb lasted way longer than that. I obviously switched back.

  • This stratagem of designing flaws into the product is an affront to The Machine God.

  • Watch “The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars”. The movie is adorable but it’s premise explains planned obsolescence and that everything is built to fail along with a pretty entertaining storyline.

  • Great video 👌

  • apple is sweating really hard rn

  • Keeping lights on longer applies to long tube fluorescent lights, leaving them on for greater than 3 hours extends their lifespan. If you turn them off and on frequently the $30+ dollar tubes die much faster. I added LED lighting in addition to my fluorescent lights in my shop and use the LEDs for short uses. The added bonus is I get great lighting when I need it with both types illuminating my shop. I also get about the same lighting with each system, yet only use around 100 watts for LEDs vs nearly 800+ watts for the fluorescent lights.

  • I find consumerism as funny. I watch people go through their lives constantly striving to have the latest & greatest things. From cars to watches to TVs. I jumped off the wagon years ago. I prefer used cars and shop thrift stores and pawn shops. I also repair the unrepairable. Not that I am poor, I hate waste. I am happy to drive a luxury SUV that the new owner took a $30k depreciation on, I appreciate their sacrifice. 😂 I find fashion particularly funny. I still wear the same "fashion" I did in high school 30 years ago, t-shirts, jeans and sneakers. It just all seems futile to chase after the Jones's. With this mindset, I own my home, no mortgage, with several acres and own two nice 4-5 year old vehicles with no car payment. I could own a bigger, newer and extravagant home. I choose not too.

  • Cool video. I have a bulb in use that is about 110 jears old and all that time in use in a basement here in Austria. It survived everything from lightnig strike to a malfunction of the grid that destroyed almost all electrical devices and lights in the house.... impressive what engineering can do if the goal is a durable product! And this bulb is on just ocasionally and survives the harsh Austrian weather (-25 to +35 Celsius)

  • Capitslism. The problem is market based Capitalism.

  • 1:20 it's not ridiculous, its the so-called free market. If you make an everlasting light bulb it will be more expensive than a programmed-not-to-last light bulb. Higher costs, you're out of the market! That's what happened to the guy who created this lamp.

  • PogU good video

  • Great video, but can someon explain to me, what made "small companies" so reliant on the cartel. Couldn't they just make good light bulbs without the fine? Why were they fined in the first place. Which "law" made them pay?

  • we watched a documentary about this topic back in 6th/7th grade and it left a really big impact on my life. go open source, jailbreak, never pay for subscriptions and never buy desktop SOCs because they can be slowed down with a firmware update forever (also it's just companies trying to cheap out on silicon)

  • We may say socialism does not work, but we gotta admit that capitalism doesn't either. It creates a lot of internal inconsistencies, like this one. Also, no one wants to pay workers, but the system needs workers with money to consume. Technology becomes a threat to work, and not a help to humanity. Also we can have those strange bubbles where we have at the same time excess of production coupled with loss of jobs. The market does not invest in infraestructure and research, since it is not a good business and so it need structures outside the market logic of organizing resources (like the government) to make it and then steal it by a small price afterwards. I could go on and on. The market is an irrational mess.

  • Than i think human can live long if human doctors allow. We are so greedy we are not halp each others that why country's are fighting each other's for greed. 😕

  • ❤️💕💞

  • I feel like there was a much more crucial point of critique regarding capitalism in here that got lost (not that I expected it). Afterall no LED bulb or any other technological improvement is free of planned/dynamic obsolesence (which is why it rings so hollow that the video ended on that note). The proposed policy in Europe is ofc good but also just _proposed_ . And it is going to have to overcome a whirlwind of corporate resistance (lobbying, corruption, propaganda, capital leverage, etc.) in order to get anywhere. Is the general point not, that everyone can clearly see how irrational planned obsolesence is for consumers and how destructive it is to our planet - and yet we live in a system that is destined to reproduce it in various ways all over the economy? Isn't that curious?

  • very informative Thanks Elon😆 seriously it's good

  • Everything’s nice to me


  • So it was a matter of profit over people. We kept making better bulbs because it was beneficial for all the people. Then we made them too good, some greedy members of our species monopolized the market and began producing just-good-enough-bulbs.

  • There is a movement against greedy malpractices of tech corporations called right to repair, but the nicest way explained is by veritasium: not confrontational and very informative.

  • It should be noted that in terms of lumens per watt, less lifetime generally means higher energy efficiency. This is why the move to fewer hours was supported by engineers that had an interest in energy efficiency. But the managers embraced it because it also meant higher profits. In general: longer lifespan means lower brightness and/or higher power draw. As you can see in the lightbulb at 06:18 it is very dim, and I assure you it still draws a LOT of energy. Part of that is because to reach a longer lifespan you need a thicker wire, but a thicker wire requires more power to make it glow. And to top it off it also means MUCH more heat being produced, because of how inefficient the tech was in the first place. So part of that 1000h move was to find a good point between resource costs of powering all these bulbs and the resource cost in replacing them. This is also why anti-trust agencies didn't act on it back in the day. At least that is how the story goes. I'd like for someone to properly test it... but nobody ever mentions the energy efficiency aspect in the first place.

  • The problem is people trying to look cool by showing off the stupid crap they buy.

  • i miss my iphone 7

  • information if the new wave of neo-fascism stop people for having the real information and they will always pay for proof of work

  • till that ending, i can agree with led bulbs die just as fast now as the incandescent from the past. There is no good way to make things last if there's money to be made.

  • Maybe look into Meyer's water car or John Hutchinson. And not just "googling it". Look into it.

  • Here from x XqcL

  • Capitalism does not breed innovation.

  • Linus send me :) Views are only gonna go up...

  • Juicers????

  • Millions of fathers around the world have one eye twitching because of that light bulb being on so long. Right behind messing with the thermostat leaving a light on in the house drove my father into an OCD frenzy. Leaving the fridge door open longer than 20 seconds comes next. "Open the door, grab what you want and close the door damnit". "The door is not a window and I don't have xray vision dad. I didn't come to the fridge with detailed mission plans." FYI. Opening the door for a second then closing it then opening it then closing it...etc Drove him nuts........ Until he came up with "you are going to burn out that light so stop it". Good times.. Good times.

  • XqcL

  • Good video, making a comment for algorithms

  • Derek looking directly into lightbulbs irks me.

  • The questions I asked to my dad has been answered by watching this video. Thanks

  • Imagine their contribution to global waste

  • Just subbed ... Love your content!

  • I Learned a lot wow

  • Thankyou


  • XqcL

  • :>

  • Our current system of fineing companies is inadiquate. It should be illigal for large companies to settle out of court, and whatever money the company made due to the illigal act should be confiscated on top of a fine that comprises a minimum of 15% of the companies total revinue. This money should then be evenly redistributed amongst those affexted by the illigal action.

  • Don't forget about the waste and pollution created by planned obsolescence. And don't think that LED bulbs are any better as far as lifespan, the circuit boards are designed to burn out after a couple of years so you gotta buy new ones. You might look into automotive fuel consumption rates. The way cars and trucks are built and designed now they could easily get 50-75mph but they don't because they don't have to. Imagine how much pollution could be lessened if all cars lasted for at least 300K miles and averaged 75mph. It's easily achievable but it's not profitable to the people that own the gas and automobile companies. The paint color thing was interesting, I didn't know that.

  • I'm seeing lots of comments of people saying communism is the answer in a non-joking fashion. Very concerning

  • You didn't talk about the light bulbs out of Dubai.

  • A company that needs to invest a heavy amount wants as much reward as possible and they shouldn’t invest where they won’t get a good return, so a natural inclination will be to use planned obsolescence. However, competition forces will compel other companies to compete with better products. If a market has healthy competition, (which many don’t) firms can reach an equilibrium to balance value for the company and value for the consumer

  • Look at the new iMacs for examples ring some bell? no?.. they coloured them again

  • This video oddly matches a lot of what was said by Sally Helm on NPRs Throughline podcast. I’m not saying there is plagiarism, but it is peculiar how the same three examples were used in this video as in that podcast.


  • Hi, welcome to capitalism.

  • Technocracy Inc. has been pointing this out since the Great Depression almost a hundred years ago

  • This is very old news! (I haven't watched it all) it's called planned obsolescence, meaning that products are deliberately designed to fail long before they would've if it had been designed to last! This IS capitalism in action, you vote for it's applications whenever you install conservative/nationalist govts because that is why conservatism was invented! to keep the rich rich and the workers IE: 99% of ALL ppl. on the planet in borderline poverty. This keeps labor costs from rising because ppl. become desperate for jobs, very simple strategy but these days esp. in the US. (due to conservative fearmongering about socialism/communism since the 1950's, YES you ppl. don't learn!) ppl. seem to think conservatives care for ppl. IE: Regan the pretender and now Trump the liar! During the 1980's-90's the conservatives who had much power/influence over economists(Reagan/Thatcher) promoted 'trickle down economics' meaning if the rich got richer so w'ld the poor! That was 40yrs ago and even 25yrs ago it had already been shown NOTEVER to have worked! except for about 5 yrs in the US. To this day the conservatives cling to this BS ideology and it is why your incomes have increased only by 40% odd in 40yrs while corperate wealth has increased 400%. . . SO I hope you love your poverty! keep voting the Reps. the Libs. and the Nat's. into power for they'll ensure you keep getting what YOU deserve! The 'right to repair?' what a JOKE! how about making sure that what you buy will last! demand a higher price for the product, allowing higher wages for workers and ensure repairs are possible. Sure less labor will be needed that can then be diverted to aged care, healthcare, social housing, mental heath, tourism, entertainment, renewables, recycling, infrastructure and hospitality industries that ppl. will be able to enjoy due to higher incomes and more free time. How about before that, we close the loopholes that allow the Mega-rich corporations, mining, banking, and industrial interests ALL! from hiding moneys that they should be taxed on in 'Tax Havens' around the world. This is simply companies STEALING from the ppl. of nations that they work and benefit from! Conservative govts. globally actively suppress moves by any to curtail these practices, or to investigate the insurance and banking industries globally!

  • 14:07 whats wrong with a new iPhone every year? Imagine if we were still stuck with the first iPhone (2007) because Apple didnt want to make any newer phones that made it obsolete. Im not defending Apple, i think purposely slowing down older models, designing them to fail, and making them irreparable when they do fail is planned obsolescence and bad. But do new styles and colors make iPhones obsolete? You can just buy a case. Apple makes millions of iPhones each year, why should they all look identical? It really doesnt matter if the edges are rounded or squared off, thats why Apple can make it both ways without ruining its quality. Yes improvements year to year are marginal but most people aren’t upgrading every single year. Apple didn’t make the iPhone X in 2017 for the people who just bought an iPhone 7 in 2016. They made it for the people who wanted a new phone in 2017, who probably had their phone for 3-6 years already. Imagine if Apple instead released iPhones on a 4-year cycle, so they jumped from iPhone 6S (2015) to iPhone 11 (2019). Someone buying a new phone in 2018 could’ve gotten an iPhone XS, but instead they have to buy a phone thats already 3 years old or wait a whole nother year for the new one? By not making an iPhone XS, they are holding back tech from consumers to force them to buy an outdated phone thats gonna be replaced soon. I’d rather they make marginal improvements every year because that means that the next phone won’t make the previous model obsolete, whereas major changes will. I think a big reason why Apple makes marginal improvements every year is because its easier than relearning a totally new phone. Its not as simple as “why cant Apple just put every planned feature in the next iPhone so we dont have to keep waiting for the next one?” It takes time to adopt new tech so they release it gradually. Not just for the people purchasing the phones, but also for the companies supplying the materials, the companies that manufacture the parts, the people that create services using the tech, and building the infrastructure to support the technology. Society adapts to an evolving smartphone and in return, smartphones have to adapt to an evolving society. For example, Apple used to boast that iPhone size was perfect because you could reach every corner of the screen with your thumb, but as people started doing more things on their phones, they needed more room so larger screens became more ideal. As smartphones change how we live our lives, the ideal smartphone also changes so Apple can’t make a final “best” iPhone.

    • I think that having better products definitely matter. One big issue is something that Apple just did a few days ago. They released their new phone in purple for no reason. Also many of their products barely differ each model that is why so many people are making a smarter investment buying every other generation. But overall I think the video is using apple as an example because their idiotic repair logic.

  • This is why I like to make my own things.

  • Corporates are scum.

  • They even killed Nicola Tesla over planned obsolescence.

  • I think this is the most important video I ever watch on youtube.

  • Just move to india. They rebuild, refurbish ,reuse, recycle, recreate, revamp, re everything to everything

  • Planned obsolescence is similar to Keynesian economics.Both are wrong and destroy the living standards of the poorer people.

  • now i know why iphone doesn't have charger

  • I hate LED lighting... no they aren't light bulbs ... get it right

  • this is the exact same reason we will NEVER find a cure for cancer.

  • An important historical context before the 1980s and 1990s is the idea m Earth was infinite. Resources were not viewed as limited, there were always places for new landfills. Today we see Earth very much as finite.

  • Simply wouldnt pay that fine.

  • 2 points: (1)energy emitted of a blackbody at 2800C is not one half that of the Sun at 5600C. (2) these companies are thus responsible for the enormous amount of waste that has been produced. Thus they should foot the bill for the cleanup. Also, how can a light bulb be on continuously for 100+ yrs when the firehouse is only decades old.

  • This video is brilliant. It explains why my vehicle does not last as long as it should.

  • EEclone would not let me subscribe

  • I replaced all light bulbs in my house to LED bulbs about 7 years ago, and I've already replaced at least 6 of them. The dream of an everlasting bulb, is still a dream, planned obsolescence will never go away!

  • Who were issuing fines? Can companies give out fines? Issit within their legal right?

  • Dude.... this makes me absolutely angry. What in the actual hell are we doing? So much greed!

  • There is a whole type of engineering dedicated to it called absolence engineering

  • There used to be hydro powered trollies along every river up and down the East Coast of the usa. Henry Ford conspired with the then president (sorry I forgot who) and they tore them up, built cars and highways. Look for the book, "the real history of the usa ".

  • This really pisses me off!!

  • Google throttles Pixel phones via updates.

  • Oooooook. You got another sub. Awesome video brother. Well done

  • I wonder who the person was that screwed in the old light bulb

  • Edison stole the invention from Sir Joseph Swan. Edison just commercialized it.

  • This guy thought that companies wont sell a inferior product to make more money......? No wonder he is wearing two masks....? why not wear 10 masks..? If it dont make dollars it dont make sense..

  • Battery gate is rather bs

  • No money in curing diseases either. I know very few doctors who go beyond treating symptoms. Pharmaceutical companies would hate it.

  • So in layman's terms, we can't have nice things due to greedy CEOs

    • If you wanna know why you can't have nice things look at my playlist and save it

    • And in other words, we are serfs

  • LED

  • There is a good 'How many Cartels does it take to screw up a light bulb' joke somewhere in here.

  • Nice vid sir.

  • Nope... It is absolutely the same for LED bulbs.

  • Great article, but that light bulb at the start in not in a 120 year old building. That building looks to be about 50 or 60 years old. How has the bulb been on continuously for 120 years?

  • So capitalism is the machine we have to rage against... as always. At least greedy capitalism which makes things worse to support a small amount of people.

  • Ever hear of Edward Bernays? Watch "Century of the Self" by Adam Curtis. Bernays is the "father of marketing" (or propaganda).

  • Are there still companies that dont do this?

  • LED -10 year life span.? Not a chance. (LED engineered obsolescence with poor circuitry). Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) seems to be the best Choice overall.

  • The term "conspiracy theory" was introduced by the CIA to discredit truth and hide facts.